News, thoughts and comments on civil rights and related issues.
Friday, June 18, 2004
Law: Custody rebels lose appeal
Trish Wilson has published a letter from an advocate for the fathers' rights movement who fled to the Dominican Republic, after abducting his son. The man, who claims to be a psychic, says jail is a good place for meditation. But, he doesn't seem to have found enlightenment.
I have been following a similar situation for years, including observing some of the proceedings in court. Brian and Ruth Christine kidnapped their daughters at gunpoint from Child and Family Services employees who were returning them to a foster home after a rare visit in 2001. The parents had been accused of neglect and abuse. One child had a fractured skull. The main problem was malnutrition. The children weighed less than half their proper weights. Mom and Dad had used food as a reward, much as one does when training a dog. The Christines were on the lam for about a week, with help from a wealthy benefactor. The parents became a cause celebre in some Right Wing circles and were represented by Edgar Steele. He is a leader in the neo-Confederate and Holocaust denial movements. (Among many other strange things, Steele believes there is a plot by state and federal governments to take Aryan children away from their conservative aparents and give them to 'muds' and liberals.)
The kidnapping was achieved by stealing the van the caseworkers had been transporting the children in. Since the van was identifiable, they abandoned it after transferring to a car in another location. Steele had hoped to get the robbery conviction reversed. This week, an Oregon appellate court said no.
The News-Review has the story.
The Christines are saying converting an object to their own use under threat of force isn't robbery if they abandon the object later. That is the kind of sophistry typical of Edgar Steele, who also represented the Aryan Nations in the civil trial over an assault on nonwhites who drove past their headquarters in Idaho. And, typically, he lost. The Court wasn't remotely inclined to smile on 'borrowing' the van. It appears that the argument that taking property from government workers doing their duties is acceptable -- if you abandon it later -- is as about as convincing as another one advocates of taking the law into one's hands in custody cases make: It is not possible to kidnap one's own child. It is, if one's right to custody is doubtful.
Both the Jaks and Christine cases show there are people who will endanger their children to prove a point about their presumed right to control them. I gather that Jaks, a radical member of a fathers' rights group, is the sort of person who influenced the Christines. They are a foolish couple, susceptible to manipulation by Steele and other extremists. A network of anti-government activists urged the Christines to defy the law and then melted away when indictments were being handed out. I doubt they've had many visitors in prison, either. Perhaps other people will learn from Brian and Ruth Christine's experience.
Read Lowell Jaks' entire letter at Trish Wilson's Weblog.
•Edgar Steele, the lawyer who represents the Christines, made a previous appearance at Silver Rights in "Anti-Semite opposes war for wrong reasons." Read it.
•The Southern Poverty Law Center named Edgar Steele one of its top 40 extremists last year.
Note: A correction and additional information. Lowell Jaks took his child to the Dominican Republic after abducting him. Jaks was extradicted and is incarcerated in California. The boy has been returned to his mother.posted by J. | 5:30 PM
Wednesday, June 16, 2004
The trouble with fathers' rights
The research I did into the National Fatherhood Iniative's bus ads targeting black fathers led to some correspondence from persons involved in the fathers' rights movement. Among the material I was sent was a link to an article that asserts 60 to 80 percent of claims of domestic abuse against men who become noncustodial parents are made up. That is the kind of propaganda that makes the fathers' rights movement conspicuously dubious. Domestic abuse is a well-documented and widespread problem. Furthermore, since most allegations of abuse occur before a father is barred from contact and/or divorced, retaliation for the breakup cannot be a motivation as these people suggest. Noticeably missing from the article are any citations to alleged studies supporting what its author, talk show host Glenn Sacks, says.
A father who claims to have been picked on by the system was sentenced to a half-century in prison this week. His complaints relate to not having been allowed to see his four sons after he was charged with raping his preteen daughter.
Like many abusers, Lucie exercises an iron will over his family. No one, not even grandparents or cousins, would speak on Valerie's behalf. One of her teachers offered the only memorial to her doing the sentencing phase. Her mother, Andrea, has been a steadfast supporter of Timothy Lucie. If the mother fits the pattern in incest cases, she will have known of the abuse of Valerie long before the child's suicide.
The trouble with the fathers' rights movement is that it likely encompasses a significant proportion of men who have done hideous things to women and children and lie about their history. Lucie's protest is that he is the head of his family and the system has no business meddling in how he runs it. I've also heard of cases involving 'Christian' fathers who cite Biblical authority for rape, assault and even murder. And, there is always the 'the bitch set me up' alibi. Until the men in the fathers' rightsmovement eliminate abusers of women and children from their ranks, I doubt most Americans will sympathize with it.
I hope you will take time to read the full news story about the sentencing of the man who caused Valerie Lucie's death -- her father. Strangers will have to remember who was the victim and who is the perpetrator since her family won't.posted by J. | 12:45 AM
Tuesday, June 15, 2004
Dean Esmay dissembles about race
A couple readers have asked me about my brief reference to Dean Esmay in a note to part two of the series on the National Fatherhood Initiative's ads lambasting black fathers. I mentioned Esmay because he is one of the people consulted by Juliette Ochieng, Baldilocks, about the ads. I am troubled by that because I do not believe he is someone who should be dispensing advice about anything having to do with race. I haven't been a reader of Esmay's blog entries, finding them stem winders that usually say next to nothing. However, from time to time, people send me citations to reprehensible entries about race Esmay has made. The pattern is for Esmay to falsely represent some aspect of Southern history involving African-Americans. Let's review some of those entries.
Last fall, Esmay told a whopper about the history of lynching. He claimed that the very Southern practice was not regional and did not have much, if anything, to do with race. Wyatt Ruthven, of the Wyatt Wire, an excellent researcher, debunked that inane effort to rewrite history.
There is no ambiguity in the data. Nor do I think that anyone educated to or beyond high school has any reason to believe that lynching occurred as often in the North as in the South, or that whites were lynched as often as blacks. Lynching was a form of control used to keep African-Americans submissive during and after Reconstruction. Most Americans, including most Southerners, know who was lynched and why. The only reason I can think of for someone to misrepresent the nature of lynching is a determined desire to mislead. I believe Esmay purposely set out to distribute false information about lynching in the blogosphere to further his campaign to paint a rosy and unrealistic picture of the South.
Just three days later, Ruthven had to take Esmay to task, again. Esmay published an entry claiming te the Southern Strategy does not exist. Those of us who know anything about American politics, know the Southern Strategy, attracting white Southern voters to the Republican Party, began during the massive resistance movement against desegregation. (I'm sure Esmay will claim there was no massive resistance, as well, but, again, he will be lying.) Ruthven gave that big lie short shrift.
Anyone aware of the history of Southern racial relations, the GOP or national politics for the last five decades, knows the Southern Strategy is real and based on race. Nor does one need to look far to see it in action. The so-called Solid South would not exist without it.
Esmay was at it again when the fact segregationist Sen. Strom Thurmond had fathered a daughter with a black woman became public last year. He claimed that the wily old schemer had treated Essie Mae Washington well and that the denial of paternity was meant to ''protect' Washington, not to allow Thurmond to continue his long career as an obstructionist to racial equality. My response would have been bull----, if I were giving to cursing.
It is ironic that Dean Esmay was consulted about an issue he had already weighed in on previously in regard to Thurmond -- how a father should treat a black child. Apparently, disowning one's offspring and providing support only after the child is nearly grown, and then as hush money, are commendable behaviors. Esmay said so. That is why this entry is following the previous two. The people behind the bus ads, administrators at Right Wing foundations and the National Fatherhood Initiative, are conservative white males. A bunch of Dean Esmays, one could say. The people whose intimate relationships they wish to control most, apparently, are minority women. The arrangement they envision harkens back to slavery, when slave masters told black women who they could mate with and when. Slave owners also determined the amount of contact between related slaves, if any. Such behavior denies the people involved autonomy. I don't think it is an aspect of history that needs to be revisited.
In reviewing these and other entries by Esmay about race one reads the typical claims from the neo-Confederate movement. The pre-Civil War South was not a bad place. White Southerners had affection for blacks, until they started getting uppity. Lynching did not really happen or occurred mainly in the North. There's no Southern Strategy. I do not know whether Esmay is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the League of the South, or the Council of Conservative Citizens. But, his views match theirs. Esmay is one of their voices in the blogosphere.posted by J. | 2:15 PM